Ok, so I bet y'all are dying to learn the outcome of my review at work. Drum roll please... Зайцы, дробь.... I GOT A RAISE! Yes, yours truly is a great employee who does an exceptional job worthy of a 5% raise.
Next item on the news is our possible move to Raleigh, NC. So the rumors travel fast. That's ok, I'm more than happy to answer all the questions. First of all, why North Carolina? Ok, let's think logically here (get your road atlases out now). From South to North:
Florida - been there, done that. The only good place is Miami, but expensive and hurricane prone.
Georgia - hmmm, have you ever been to this state? Its coastal areas stink, quite literally. Atlanta stinks figuratively with all the traffic and urban sprawl. The only semi-decent place is Savannah. Although, as charming as the historic district is, the rest is more sprawl, slums, and unpleasant smell.
South Carolina - Charleston is nice, but has the same disadvantages as Savannah. The rest of the state is off limits - my boss lives in Greenville and I really wouldn't want to move there or to Columbia. I prefer to work with minimal supervision.
Now from North to South:
Maine - too cold and desolate.
Rhode Island - expensive (but very nice).
Massachusets - getting even more expensive. Plus I feel that Boston is too big of a city for me. I'd love to visit, but can't stay (no offense to my friends from Boston). Plus they have too many traffic lights and too few public restrooms.
New York/New Jersey/Connecticut - ok now, we'll have to sell our body parts to organ harvesters to afford living there. So maybe we'll afford renting a place, since the salaries tend to be higher in the Tri-State area. But owning even an outhouse is out of the question unless we settle for 3-4 hours of commuting to work (one way).
Virginia and Maryland - these are nice (in parts) and even though they are more expensive than down south, we'd consider them if we had a solid job offer.
I probably skipped a state or two (Delaware comes to mind) and completely ignored Washington, DC. But you get the picture. So what's left of the Eastern seaboard is really the great state of North Carolina that seems to have it all.
Now, going from East to West:
Any Midwest states are out the running for the ideal place to live. No offence here. I've been to some of these states, notably Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, and one or two others. And on average I was extremely bored. The plains depress me and so does the absence of significant bodies of water within easy driving distance. Or the absence of large cities and cultural attractions in general. Plus the coastal states tend to be more cosmopolitan and trendy, even though it does get annoying from time to time. At least it's never boring.
The West Coast would be great. I would love to try Seattle area, rain nonwithstanding. I was there in May and it only rained once in 3 days. Plus Seattle's multi-cultural atmosphere and its surroundings (mountains all around, forests, water everywhere) totally make up for lack of sunshine. I've heard Portland, OR is also a good place. But unfortunately the West Coast is out of a question as well. One reason is financial. The other, more important, is that it's too far from both our families (and they don't show any desire to move).
So back to North Carolina. There are two cities we marked as possible targets for our move - Charlotte and Raleigh. Now, Raleigh is the state capital, which means tons of government jobs. And everyone knows that government jobs are the best. You get great benefits, all federal holidays, long vacations, easy work... Plus it's harder to get fired, easier to move up the ladder, and you don't have to be very smart at all! If you think I'm wrong on this, just visit any of the government offices in your town (starting with the DMV, Social Services, etc). But Raleigh also has the Research Triangle Park - only the largest technology park in the world, with companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, IBM and the likes. And it is a pretty place too, very nicely planned and landscapted, with sidewalks and bike paths and all. Most impressive!
The Raleigh-Durham area has several universities, including North Carolina State U. and the Duke University. Duke is the 4th most prestigious university in the US and one of the best medical research facilities in the country. I always see it mentioned in my fitness magazines (for example, a study that concluded that if you eat right and exercize regularly, you are more likely to loose weight than if you don't - that was very motivating). If we move, I will be able to start a Master's Program at a state university as soon as I become a state resident (after 1 year). Unfortunately, due to the lack of organic funds (read - I'm not making enough money), I won't be able to afford Duke. Well, maybe I can earn some money by participating in their medical research for fitness magazines.
I don't want to dwell on the real estate market. It's not nearly as expensive as in New York or even Florida. The houses are nice too, most with fireplaces and hardwood floors, but with no garages. We didn't really see as many homes as we hoped to see, but the three that we saw were nice. Well, the first one actually had a flooded crawl space and the wall between the master bedroom and the master bath didn't quite reach the ceiling and the yard was screwed up and the view was mostly of the interior of the neighbor's house and there were a couple of other things... But the other two places were nice.
There are enough Russians in the area to support 3 stores and a Russian Sunday school. This is very important to me, since I can't live without some deli items that Americans seem to not like (i.e herring, cold smoked fish, cold salted and dried fish, fish in oil, fish in tomato sauce, and some fish salads). Oh, plus Raleigh is about 2 hours away from the ocean and 3 hours or so from the mountains. So all in all, Raleigh looks promising.
Will we move there? We haven't decided yet. We're considering some other places as well. Again, if one of us gets a really good job offer in Virginia or Maryland, we'll take it and move there. But either way, I'll let you know as soon as things are more certain.